Eunice is a little known female environmentalist and women's rights activist, however surprisingly, she was one of the first to introduce the idea of global warming and climate change.
Born 202 years ago in 1819, Eunice Newton Foote (of Seneca Falls, New York) was a physicist, inventor, and women's rights advocate. Through experimentation over time, Eunice studied the sun's rays effects on different gases using an air pump, glass cylinders, and thermometers. From there, she wrote up her findings in a paper in 1856 entitled Circumstances Affecting the Heat of the Sun's Rays. It was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting by male scientist Joseph Henry rather than by Eunice Foote herself. The reason for this is not clear given she presented a different paper of her own the following year.
What is likely is that Eunice's work was probably unknown by Tyndall, due probably to the fact that women of that era were not revered in the science fields. Secondarily, the primary folks in the field at that time were Europeans, not Americans. Thirdly, Eunice held the status of amateur scientist, making it yet another reason why her name did not circle in all the right places. Additionally she did have some flaws in her study, yet despite that, she was the first to make the full connection. Given that recognition is due where it is due, Eunice was noted (posthumously) to be the first to notice carbon dioxide and water vapor absorbed heat--linking to how our atmosphere would lead warming the planet with increased carbon dioxide.
To learn more and further tip your hat to Eunice Foot as the "Mother of Climate Change," read these articles and watch either of the animated video or short film below:
- NOAA's Climate.Gov's article written July 17, 2019 by Amara Huddleston "Happy 200th Birthday to Eunice Foote, Hidden Climate Science Pioneer"
- Comox Valley Record's "Science Matters: The Woman who Discovered Global Warming" written by Canadian broadcaster and environmental activist David Suzuki on March 11, 2020
- All That's Interesting's March 27, 2020 article by Natasha Ishak entitled "Meet Eunice Foote, The Mother Of Climate Science Whose Work Was Ignored Because Of Her Sex"
- The New York Times article "Overlooked No More: Eunice Foote, Climate Scientist Lost to History" by John Schwartz on April 21, 2020 (and I love that this article references Katherine Hayhoe on this topic--one of my favorite climate scientists!)
Photograph of Eunice Foote from https://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/opinion/science-matters-the-woman-who-discovered-global-warming/, sketch & writing picture from https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://allthatsinteresting.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/typing-woman-vs-footes-research-featured.png&imgrefurl=https://allthatsinteresting.com/eunice-foote&tbnid=95oF71LWBr2nHM&vet=1&docid=5qhn66NSg3KgYM&w=1100&h=585&source=sh/x/im, Videos from https://youtu.be/09yKxAB9IlM and https://youtu.be/WxgAOKzOcBU